Carrot Cake with Lemon Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

A easy delicious and moist layered carrot cake, covered with tangy lemon cinnamon cream cheese frosting.  Perfect for spring brunches and dinners, or to use up that abundance of summer CSA carrots!

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting: a delicious and easy moist layered cake with sweet and tangy, cinnamony frosting. {Bunsen Burner Bakery}

What is it about springtime and carrot cakes?  They really do go together perfectly.

Just like the french vanilla lemon blueberry scones I shared early in the week, carrot cake is a perfect addition to spring and summer brunches or a stellar after-dinner dessert.

Fluffy white cream cheese frosting, bright orange specks of carrots – carrot cake is a sure sign that spring has arrived.

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting: a delicious and easy moist layered cake with sweet and tangy, cinnamony frosting. {Bunsen Burner Bakery}

I first shared this recipe waaaay back in 2011.  Six years ago – practically a lifetime in food blogging terms.

I generally let my old recipes stay where they are, but I recently remade this carrot cake with lemon cinnamon cream cheese frosting and decided the post needed a facelift.

A few tweaks to the ingredients, some shiny new pictures, and a spot on the front page for a bit.  This cake was just too good to hide away behind six years of recipes!

A slice of a moist two layer carrot cake covered with cinnamon cream cheese frosting decorated with pecans.

{And speaking of shiny new pictures, take a look at the pictures that were in the original post.  Yikes!

Let’s pour one out for the good old days of food blogging, when a poorly lit picture taken on a point and shoot camera immediately got thousands of pageviews from Tastespotting.

Suffice to say, the oversaturation of the food blogging corner of the internet means everyone has to step up their photography game these days!}

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting: a delicious and easy moist layered cake with sweet and tangy, cinnamony frosting. {Bunsen Burner Bakery}

The first time I made a carrot cake, it was for a coworker’s birthday.  I was the official “birthday cake baker” of my lab in graduate school (which is how this blog started – everyone asked for my recipes!).

By request, there were a lot of chocolate, peanut butter, and oreo-based cakes.  I also tried some vegan baking with avocado, perfected my Easy Traditional Tiramisu recipe, made a super-fun candy cake, and made way too many dark chocolate cheesecakes.

A single large slice of carrot cake covered with lemon cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

When it came time to make my first carrot cake, I looked through a few different carrot cake recipes and then just decided to make one on a whim as I went. The biggest benefit to creating your own recipes?  Tailoring it to your exact tastes!

In this case, lots of cinnamon, LOTS of carrots, light on the nuts, and absolutely no pineapple whatsoever.  I love you in my fruit salad, but not in my cakes!

I like plain vanilla cakes sky high and light and fluffy.  But carrot cakes?  I always prefer mine to be dense.I find that cakes that wind up in the refrigerator, like this one because of the cream cheese frosting, hold up much better when dense.

A cake that is dense generally has excess moisture, and more moisture prevents the cake from getting as stale.  Don’t worry, this isn’t pound cake level dense – it’s just not airy.  To make sure it has that extra moisture and density, grate your carrots fresh – don’t buy the bags of pre-grated carrots!

It’s delicious and well worth the extra effort, trust me!

A single slice of carrot cake with lemon cinnamon cream cheese frosting with a forkful of cake.

The one thing everyone seems to agree on when it comes to carrot cake?  Cream cheese frosting!

Now, look.  I’ll willingly admit that I am not the biggest fan of cream cheese frosting.  It’s just so… sweet.

Tooth-achingly, cloyingly sweet.  We don’t need such a sweet frosting to cover up our delicious carrot cake!

Instead, we’ll add some amazing flavors that aren’t sweet: cinnamon and lemon.  Such a perfect pairing!

The frosting stays light and fresh, but still has that sweet tang you expect for a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting!

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting: a delicious and easy moist layered cake with sweet and tangy, cinnamony frosting. {Bunsen Burner Bakery}

What are your carrot cake preferences?  Nuts? No nuts? Pineapple? No pineapple?  Do you (shudder) add raisins to yours?  Light and fluffy or deliciously dense?  Where do you stand?

I’ve made this cake a few times since my initial cake six years ago.  Every time I’ve brought it somewhere to share, there has been nary a single dense, carrot filled, pineapple free, slightly nutty crumb left.

I’m going to go ahead and call this carrot cake with lemon cinnamon cream cheese frosting a true crowd pleaser.

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

A easy delicious and moist layered carrot cake, covered with tangy lemon cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 cups packed freshly-grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 16 ounces (2 packages) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line the bottoms of two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk together to blend.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add half the dry ingredients, all the milk, and the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat after each addition until just incorporated. Mix in carrots and pecans by hand.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack, peel off the parchment, and cool completely before frosting.
  5. To make the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and cinnamon, mixing until the cinnamon is equally dispersed.  Add in the confectioners sugar, half a cup at a time.  Once all sugar has been incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat at full speed for 30 seconds.  If frosting is too stiff, add one tablespoon of milk.

Cake should be stored in the refrigerator after frosting.

A Bunsen Burner Bakery Original Protocol

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting: a delicious and easy moist layered cake with sweet and tangy, cinnamony frosting. {Bunsen Burner Bakery}